"I'm eighty-nine and a half!" boasts Esther Scaturro, a former patient at HealthSouth Nittany Valley Rehabilitation Hospital, as she hoists her leg up onto her walker from her State College apartment. "I have no pain," she says with a grin. "I knew that I had to work hard at HealthSouth in order to come home, and in the end, they worked with me until I had no pain."
Esther seems to have a new lease on life after a stay in the Pleasant Gap hospital. "HealthSouth gave me the energy that I thought I would never have again. I have built so much strength; I came home feeling like I never had surgery."
A few months ago, Esther fell in her apartment, breaking her hip, fracturing her leg, and chipping a bone in her foot. "I lay on the floor, crying for help, for three hours. I became so scared and weak, until finally two women in my building heard my cries and called 911," recalled Esther. Her eyes filled with tears as she remembers the paramedic who crawled from her neighbor's balcony to hers, six floors high, to get to her. "Those neighbors, and that paramedic, saved my life."
After hip surgery at Mount Nittany Medical Center, she had a choice between a skilled nursing facility near her apartment, or HealthSouth. "I live near a skilled nursing facility that advertised their rehab services. I knew, because of the location, that my friends could easily visit me," recalls Esther. "But I learned that at HealthSouth, you get three hours of therapy a day, and a doctor sees you every day. So I chose HealthSouth. The rest, as they say, is history."
Esther was at HealthSouth for three weeks; in physical therapy and occupational therapy. She recalls the staff with such fondness, and can proudly list their names. "They were all so dedicated to getting me back home again. But it wasn't just me; they treated everyone like they were so special."
She credits her healthcare team, and remembers how each played a critical role in her quick recovery. "Dr. Allatt (HealthSouth medical director) would come into my room after my therapy and say, "Esther, if you keep this up, you'll be home soon!" She adds, "and Natalie, in occupational therapy, has the patience of a saint." Esther is an example of why we work so hard to get people back home as soon as possible. Even at the age of eighty-nine, with a team of people committed to the highest level of therapy, you can recover from hip surgery, go home, and get back to living.
Esther says that she watched the other patients in physical therapy making progress and she thought that if they could do it, she could too. "The therapists gave praise when I did well, and encouraged me when I had a difficult time. The day that my physical therapist, Katie, got me to walk up stairs with a walker, turn around, and come down, I was so excited! And another therapist, Steve, would say, 'Esther has a lot of enthusiasm today!'" Esther continued, "When they taught me to step up to, and down from, curbs, I was so proud of myself; I just hugged Katie. Steve cheered me on again, saying, 'watch Esther go!'" Reflecting on those moments spent with staff, she says, "No words printed in Webster's dictionary can express how I feel in my heart about the people at HealthSouth."
On being home again, Esther says, "HealthSouth's intensive therapy gave me the energy to come home and live independently. I don't have a family to rely on; I want to be independent, and live amongst my friends, for as long as possible."
Esther not only bonded with the staff, but with her roommate as well: "The positive outlook that the staff shared with me, helped me to pass that on to my roommate. We would wake up early, look out our large window, and see the deer and wild turkeys prancing around on the lawn. We would say, 'what a way to start a day of therapy!'" Esther and her roommate are both home and remain good friends.
Esther is clearly proud of her accomplishments after surgery: "HealthSouth gives you strength, confidence, and comfort," she says. "I was a patient who was willing to persevere; and I knew that I was in the right hands to do just that."